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By Alice M. Batzel

Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter are the instructors of the Master's class. In the grand scheme of the universe, the most I can claim is that I've passed some elementary level courses in life through my experiments in gardening and canning. I didn't come from a family of home gardeners, but it's something I wanted to learn so I enrolled myself into the realm of investigating the subject. With the basics of knowledge and investigation underway, I took to planning, preparing, planting, fertilizing, tending to the garden growth, protecting it from intruders of many varieties, indulging in the long-awaited produce, and preserving harvested food items in glass bottles and jars for the long winter season. The experiment spanned nearly 40 years. This year has been different. This year I've been dealt another life-lesson through a few health challenges, and I may be forced to admit that the years of my enrollment in the schoolhouse of home gardening and canning are now but a memory.

This year I'll stock my shelves with help from the grocery store and the case lot sales that will soon be showing in the local newspaper advertisements. The commercially prepared canned goods will never be my first choice, they won't taste as good, I know that for sure. But sometimes in life, you have to shift gears, and at this time and season of my life, that's where I am. Has it been wasted time with those earlier efforts to now no longer be able to continue with the ceremonial ritual of the home garden and home canning? Not to me. I've learned much with the study, planning, implementing the strategy, patrolling my growing vegetables, watering, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting and preserving. But even more than that, it's been in the quiet moments of the early morning or late evening when I've watered and watched the garden, and communed with God for the mere opportunity of the experience that's granted my degree in this unique school in life.

My technical achievement would probably not be ranked higher than a freshman or sophomore level in the gardening and canning classroom. But now knowing that I've slipped into a different season of life, the memory of it leaves me with gratitude for the experience. That gratitude and the solitude of reflection has given me a few treasured days in the Master's class. There's much to be learned from the garden, harvest, canning and preserving and most of it, if not all, can be a metaphor for many things in life if we pause to study its elementary principles. I believe that's one of the purposes for which the Master designed the garden. For all who've experienced a hearty garden and canning season this year, be grateful and give thanks. As I reminisce, this I have learned from the garden...seasons change...oh, how quickly they change.

(copyright August 6, 2017 - Alice M. Batzel - all rights reserved)

(Photo credit: From the Facebook page of The REAL Linnie's Place.)

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